Otago Daily Times

The Otago Daily Times (ODT) is a newspaper published by Allied Press Ltd in Dunedin, New Zealand.

Otago Daily Times
Allied Press Building, Dunedin – the ODT's home
TypeDaily (except Sunday) newspaper
Owner(s)Allied Press
EditorBarry Stewart
HeadquartersDunedin, New Zealand


Originally styled The Otago Daily Times, the ODT was first published on 15 November 1861.[1] It is New Zealand's oldest surviving daily newspaper - Christchurch's The Press, six months older, was a weekly paper for its first few years. The first issue ran to 2750 copies, and was sold for threepence.

The ODT was founded by W.H. Cutten and Julius (later Sir Julius) Vogel during the boom following the discovery of gold at the Tuapeka, the first of the Otago goldrushes. Cutten was the publisher of a weekly newspaper, the Otago Witness, which was founded in 1851, and the strong political views of co-founder Vogel saw an outlet in the ODT's pages, notably for advocacy of provincial government. Its first chief reporter was Edward Thomas Gillon.[2]

The ODT was originally published from premises in Princes Street, but moved to a new building at the corner of Dowling and Burlington Streets at the foot of Bell Hill in 1879. It stayed here until 1928 when it moved into larger premises on the other side of Burlington Street facing Queen's Gardens, where they stayed until 1977.

From the start, the ODT held a strong position among South Island newspapers. Most of its Dunedin opposition papers were short lived, with only the Evening Star surviving beyond the early 1900s. The Star merged with the ODT in 1975 forming a new company, Allied Press, and the ODT moved to the Evening Star Building (now the Allied Press Building) in Stuart Street in June 1977. The Evening Star ceased publication in November 1979 because its readership was declining. As a result, the Allied Press, now publishes the ODT and several smaller papers throughout New Zealand, including the Greymouth Star.

On 5 January 1998 the ODT published for the first time on a new Goss International printing press; on the same day it introduced a new masthead reading simply "Otago Daily Times", marking Otago's 150th anniversary year of Pākehā settlement.[3]

The ODT is regarded as the father-figure of the country's four main daily newspapers, serving the southern South Island with a circulation of around 43,000 and an estimated readership of 110,000.[4]


  • 1861 - 15 November: first edition
  • 1881 - price dropped to one penny
  • 1898 - first linotype machines installed
  • 1900 - first photoengraving plant installed
  • 1949 - first full-time cartoonist employed
  • 1952 - November: the ODT became the first New Zealand metropolitan paper to print news rather than classified advertisements on the front page
  • 1955 - new general printing department inaugurated
  • 1956 - wire photographic equipment installed
  • 1961 - new enlarged format
  • 1966 - first full colour gravure preprinting
  • 1978 - 13 and 20 October: no edition due to journalists' strike; first missed days of publication in 117 years
  • 1979 - November: Evening Star ceased publication; ODT size increased to compensate
  • 1980 - August: three separate editions published for first time, serving Dunedin city, North Otago, and Central/South Otago
  • 1981 - July: first computerised publishing
  • 1987 - December: change to coloured masthead
  • 1988 - November: new typeface and formatting
  • 1990 - June: first full-process colour printing

Policies and personages

In its formative years, the ODT was active in many campaigns for social reform, none more important than the exposure of sweat shop working conditions in Dunedin in the 1880s by Editor Sir George Fenwick and Chief Reporter Silas Spragg, which led to major law reforms.

Sid Scales was a cartoonist for the ODT for 30 years until his retirement in 1981. Since then Queenstown artist Garrick Tremain has been the principal cartoonist. The editor is Barry Stewart, who took over from long-serving editor Murray Kirkness in August, 2015.


  • 1861–68 Sir Julius Vogel
  • 1868–71 George Burnett Barton
  • 1871–77 William Murison
  • 1877–78 George M Reed
  • 1878–83 James Ashcroft
  • 1883–90 Richard Twopeny
  • 1890–1909 Sir George Fenwick
  • 1909–46 Sir James Hutchinson
  • 1946–61 John Rowley Moffet
  • 1961–76 Allan Aubin
  • 1976–88 Keith Eunson
  • 1988–97 Geoff Adams
  • 1997–2007 Robin Charteris
  • 2007–2015 Murray Kirkness
  • 2015-Barry Stewart


In December 2019, The Otago Daily Times was heavily criticized for publishing a cartoon which seemed to mock a measles outbreak in Samoa. The measles crisis caused 4,000 confirmed cases and killed 55 people, most of them children under the age of 4. The newspaper later apologized, saying, “The content and timing of the cartoon were insensitive, and we apologise without reservation for publishing it.”[5]

Regular supplements

The Otago Daily Times is delivered with the following regular inserted tabloid supplements:

  • World Focus (international news and commentary, Mondays)
  • Queenstown Times (Queenstown local news, delivered with Queenstown-circulated ODTs on Monday, Wednesday and Friday)
  • Sport and U-Bet (sports news and horse racing news, Fridays)

Community newspapers

The following sister publications of the ODT are weekly free newspapers:

  • The News (also called The Lakes District and Central Otago News), Alexandra
  • The Star (Dunedin)
  • The Courier (Ashburton)
  • The Ensign (Gore)
  • Southern Rural Life region-wide farming paper
  • Southland Express (Invercargill)
  • The Courier (Timaru)
  • The Oamaru Mail (Oamaru)
  • Mountain Scene (Queenstown)
  • Clutha Leader (Clutha District)


  1. Reed, A.H. (1956) The story of Early Dunedin. Dunedin: A.H. & A.W. Reed.
  2. Verry, Leslie. "Edward Thomas Gillon". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage.
  3. Otago Daily Times, 5 January 1998, p1
  4. The Otago Daily Times, NZPA-online.
  5. Lyons, Kate (3 December 2019). "New Zealand newspaper publishes cartoon mocking Samoa measles crisis". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
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